Pope: 'Celebrate Christmas with people of Ukraine in our hearts'
Pope Francis has called on everyone to "renew our closeness to the battered Ukrainian people" and to persevere in "prayer for these our brothers and sisters who are suffering so much."
The Pope's words came just before he gave his final blessing at the Wednesday General Audience.
Recalling the immense suffering the people of Ukraine are experiencing, the Pope emphasized that we must keep them in our hearts and thoughts, especially as we draw near to celebrations for Christmas and intensify our spiritual preparation.
He suggested we celebrate "a more humble Christmas" and gift exchange and send what we have saved to help Ukrainians who desperately need assistance due to the extreme cold, illness, lack of doctors and medical facilities, and hunger now.
“Let us not forget... Christmas, yes. At peace with the Lord, yes.... But with the people of Ukraine in our hearts. And let us offer concrete signs of help for them.”
Charitable closeness to Ukraine
Earlier during the General Audience when addressing the Polish pilgrims present, the Pope thanked the people of Poland for joining a local Caritas initiative called "Family to Family" whereby support is offered to people affected by armed conflicts and humanitarian crises around the world.
This year's collection will also go to Ukrainian families, and he encouraged them to persevere in sharing with those in need.